You like playing video games?
You like watching other people play video games in a 7,000-seat arena? Entertainer – and the 2021 Super Bowl halftime performer – The Weeknd believes in the idea.
He’s an investor in a Canadian esports company that has announced plans to build a 7,000-capacity esports and entertainment venue in Toronto.
What is an esports franchise? These “teams” belong to a league of professional players of video games. The leagues play a regular season, playoffs and tournaments, and six-figure prizes are common.
OverActive Media, owner of esports franchises in Canadian and European leagues, says the $500 million (Canadian) privately funded venue is expected to be completed in 2025.
This arena is planned for the grounds of the city-owned Exhibition Place.
Music acts currently must choose between playing multi-night runs in smaller venues or larger arenas they cannot sell out, which sometimes have to curtain off entire sections to appear less empty.
“Our friends at Scotiabank Arena (capacity 19,500) have had a monopoly on the entertainment market in this city for most of 23 years,” OverActive Media president Chris Overholt told Billboard. “If you’re a premium entertainment act rolling into Toronto, you’re limited by the opportunities that that venue affords because they’re conflicted out a hundred nights a year through the combination of basketball and hockey.”
While esports will fill the bookings for 15 to 20 days of the year, Overholt says that music and entertainment are the company’s priority for the building.
It is uncertain whether The Weeknd will invest separately in the project.
“As of right now, I’ve not spoken to him directly,” Overholt said in a Billboard story. “We’re certainly engaged in a number of conversations with those parties that might be interested in partnering with us on the venue.”